For the past couple of months, I have been serving as the representative of the RSDSA to the Transportation Security Agency's Disability Council. There is a lot of information which is not widely distributed, and I thought it would be beneficial to put it up here for all to see:
Transportation Security Agency issues new Medical Notification Cards
In response to a highly publicized news account of a person with a medical condition’s humiliating experience while undergoing a pat-down, at a security checkpoint, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued a new medical notification card that fliers can present to airport screeners. Here is the link to the card:
The cards do not exempt a passenger from screening, but it will alert the TSA employee that a health condition exists.
Please understand that the purpose of these pat-down is to detect small plastic bags of explosive or highly combustible liquids that may be taped to a person’s skin. Accordingly, a metal detector will not pick them up. The new body scanning x-ray machines are supposed to be sufficiently sensitive, but they are not always available nor will they always give clear readings: especially for travelers wearing loose or baggy clothing. In the event of an “ambiguous reading” on the x-ray, a pat-down by a same-sex TSA employee is required.
Nevertheless, travelers with a “hidden disability” (including RSD/CRPS) are entitled to a “private area” in which the TSA asserts that they will be padded down with “light pressure and contact when inspecting a sensitive area or painful area,” http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtrav...rial_1986.shtm
after first being “offered a disposable paper drape for additional privacy before the beginning of a pat-down.” http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtrav...rial_1567.shtm
It is strongly suggested that prior to flying, you obtain a recently dated letter from your physician addressed to TSA Employees/Security Checkpoint Supervisor stating that you have been diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a neurological syndrome characterized by intense chronic burning pain, pathological changes in bone and skin, excessive sweating, tissue swelling, and extreme sensitivity to touch and he/she recommends that you be (1) scanned by an electronic scanning device rather than being physically searched which will cause extreme pain and prevent your traveling and (2) should a pat-down be necessary, it should be done in a private area, under a paper smock, after you have had the opportunity to privately
remove as much clothing as you feel is appropriate to minimize to pressure of the pat-down. Here are the current CRPS diagnostic codes:
CRPS has been assigned the code number 337.2. It has been classified into four categories:
(1) 337.20 – unspecified site
(2) 337.29 – other specified site
(3) 337.21 – upper extremity
(4) 337.22 – lower extremity
It is important that you carry enough copies of the doctor’s letter for each time you anticipate going through security before you return home, as each TSA facility that screens you may wish to keep a copy of the letter for its records.
Finally, because these procedures may be cumbersome and the initial TSA officer you encounter may be unfamiliar with them, we recommend that until they become thoroughly familiar with the routine (and pat-downs may be required only on occasion, depending on the x-ray) travelers who may be required to undergo pat-downs in private TSA controlled areas allow themselves one hour of additional time beyond the suggested airport arrival of 90 minutes for domestic passengers checking baggage, and 2 hours for those on international flights
Here is a link to more information from the RSDSA which may be helpful: